Sun March 3, 2013
Supporters Push Forward With Streetcar Effort
A modern streetcar line in St. Louis could spur an estimated $540 million in development in its first five years of operation, and more than $2 billion over 20 years, according to a draft feasibility study paid for by the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis.
“We’re running through existing neighborhoods and that will really help to spur development because we are touching those residential neighborhoods directly,” said Renee Ducker, a transit planner who works for URS, the consulting company that put together the draft feasibility study.
Not to be confused with the Loop Trolley project between the Delmar Loop and Forest Park, this project would connect downtown with the Central West End.
“We think that in terms of connecting, it will do a tremendous benefit not only to the city, but the region,” Ducker said.
Ducker estimated the project could cost between $219 and $270 million, depending on the amount of “streetscaping” along its route. Once completed, it would have a nearly $10 million annual operating budget.
Half of the streetcar funding would come from the Federal Transit Administration. The rest of the money, in part, may come from increasing property assessments along the line. The draft feasibility study suggests creating two “tiers” of properties along the line. Properties that are directly along the line would see the greatest increase; with increased assessments gradually declining the further a property is located from the streetcar line.
The streetcar line could have as many as 7,700 riders every day and augment MetroLink ridership, according the draft feasibility study. Those figures were calculated by plugging census data into a formula that’s widely used to forecast ridership for transit projects, Ducker said.
The Partnership for Downtown St. Louis will now begin collecting public comments on the proposed streetcar plan, beginning with an open house this Thursday at 4 p.m. at the Moto Museum at 3441 Olive. The complete draft of the feasibility study can be found here.
Once public comments have been collected, the feasibility study is expected to be finalized by mid-March. The next step will be assessing its potential environmental impact.